Laying bricks can be a great way to give a facelift to an old garden or walkway. Bricks can be used as building blocks to redesign and emphasize new landscaping features or small structures, from patios and gardens to retainer walls or flower boxes. Knowing the constraints of the project and picking the right materials will help to ensure a successful brick-laying experience.
One of the most durable bricks, which are harder than regular bricks, are called pavers. Pavers can be used to areas where a lot of traffic is anticipated or in an environment where the weather is particularly abrasive and harsh. If these conditions will be present, it is best to use a brick that is "SW rated", which is built to withstand and protect against severe weather erosion.
Once the type of brick is selected, the project must be further planned out to avoid any future mishaps. Choose a pattern for arranging the bricks that will compliment the size and shape of the area to be covered. Keep in mind that when a project requires stacking bricks vertically, as in building a small retainer wall, a good height in a do-it-yourself brick laying project is around 3-4 feet (.9-1.2 meters). A higher wall may require additional services rendered by a professional, such as steel reinforcements or expert input from architects or engineers.
When you lay brick, it is generally a good rule of thumb to buy approximately 10 percent more brick than you are expecting to use. This allows for extra in case of unexpected breakage and chipping. Arrange to have the bricks delivered to a convenient location, thus allowing for ease of use when the brick laying actually begins. Limiting the back and forth strain of brick lifting will be a convenient and much-appreciated asset.
Preparation of a strong foundation is key to any brick laying project. The land must be cleared of any obstructions, including rocks or other debris. Particularly soft spots should be filled with a gravel material, which is available for purchase in many hardware stores. Concrete slabs should always be poured 2 inches (5.8 cm) thick to provide a solid foundation and avoid future cracking. Once the site is prepared, it's time to stake out the area where the slab will lie. This is done by using tools such as a T-square, twine, and a measuring tape. A level will ensure correct placement and slope. If grass is present in the area, now is the time of remove both the sod and soil to the necessary depth of the project.
Using 2 x 4 lumber, position your slats and nail them together to form a solid frame that will act as a "wall" for the concrete mixture. This formation should be reinforced using wooden stakes, generally every 2 feet (.61 meters) or so. Reinforcing the outer edge of your wood formation with soil will also protect from misshapen foundations and seeping. If you plan to lay brick in an area where drainage might be an issue, add a layer of gravel underneath your concrete mixture to protect the area. Use either a concrete mixture, or a material known as stone dust, as the foundation.
After the concrete or stone dust is laid and cured, it is time to lay brick down. Beginning in the corners, lay the bricks over the smooth, flat foundation and tamp, carefully hitting each brick into place with a rubber mallet or hammer.
Once the first layer of bricks is in place, spread an even amount of stone dust, or mason's sand, over it and carefully sweep it into the cracks between bricks, as well as along the edge of the area. Using a hose, spray water over the bricks and stone dust. This will moisten the dust, allowing it to harden into a concrete-like bonding agent between the bricks.
It is wise to leave the wooden foundation in place for at least a week to ensure the brick and stone dust have dried and settled into place. When ready, pull wooden slats straight up to remove, and fill the area with landscaping material to complete the transition.